Music & Suits: A Match Tied in Heaven


On a regular day the talk around the TM Lewin office invariably drifts from suits to football and back to suits again, and every once in a while we touch on music. The latest bands, what concerts are coming up, and of course who is rocking the suit. Call us what you will, but at least we are consistent in our obsession with men’s tailoring, and so it seems are the leading lights in the world of music. It didn’t take long for us to realise that music and suits have a long and illustrious history that’s just begging to be explored, so we’ll give it our best shot.

The 50s and Rock n’ Roll

We could go back as far as when formal suits were first invented and find musicians that donned a three piece on stage, but let’s start off with the 50s when people first started to take note of how musicians looked just as much as how they sounded. Record companies wanted a clean look for most of their acts and suiting them up was the easiest way to attract the attention of the teenage masses. Everyone from Elvis Presley to Bill Haley and the Comets adopted the clean cut look of sharp suits on stage and of course you can imagine how much they were imitated by rising stars. Suddenly this became the look for, not only the rock n’ roll legends of the 50s, but also mainstream singers like the original man in black himself Johnny Cash.

The 60s and The Beatles

As early as 1961 when musicians all around them were trying to break free of the American style of wearing suits on stage, the Beatles began to wear suits, formal shirts, and ties in what would be become their trademark look. It’s not really possible to put into words the influence that these four lads and their manager had on pop culture at the time, so let’s just say The Beatles and their collarless grey suits were the 60s. After 1964 when Beatlemania was at its peak, the majority of new bands emerging on the scene would appear before the press in full formal gear.

The 70s and Disco

Now this is when the suit really became an essential part of any young man’s wardrobe. You just had to have a decent lounge suit or leisure suit if you wanted to get noticed down at the local discotheque. This was a time of wild colours and patterns and the widest of flared trousers, a look championed by the likes of Elton John and David Bowie. Not a time we would be heading back to in a hurry if we had a DeLorean fitted with a flux capacitor, but still important in the evolution of the modern suit, particularly for Italian designers who flourished in this over the top decade.

The 80s and New Romance

We’ll understand if you skip ahead to the 90s, but in the interest of fairness we really should give the decade that taste forgot a little of our time. Yes the 70s weren’t great but that really didn’t prepare us for the likes of Adam Ant and his pirate shirts. Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet were the other major culprits, though their styles were much more muted and eventually consisted mostly of the most heinous of crimes against men’s fashion – the over padded suit. Why they wanted to look like American footballers in shiny suits, we’ll never know, but they certainly have a lot to answer for.

The 90s and ….

Actually the 90s were mostly dominated by bands from Seattle or bands that sounded like bands from Seattle, and we just can’t really picture a grunge band in matching evening suits. It was a time when suits on stage were for the likes of Tom Jones or Julio Iglesias on comeback tours. A time when most adopted the grunge style of over-sized jumpers and cargo pants cut at the knees, unless you count yourself as one of Michael Bolton’s many fans and if that’s the case, then we don’t really want to see your photo albums of the 90s.

The 00s and everything after

Now it might seem a tad lazy to lump the last 14 years into one paragraph (and it probably is), but the truth is that since the turn of the century things have been pretty straightforward. You have the likes of Robbie Williams and Michael Buble trying their hardest to bring back the Frank Sinatra stage presence and Pitbull doing his thing with as many beautiful ladies as he can find. Sean Combs has been busy maturing and becoming a serious contender for best dressed rapper/producer/business mogul and then there’s the seemingly endless supply of boy bands trying to look mature in grown up and admittedly very stylish, slim fit suits. So it seems that right now suits are in but then again so is everything else.

So there you have it, suits and music really do go together, just like men’s shirts and ties – you see what we did there?

There is probably a host of acts that made suits their signature style, so why not let us know who you think had a suited look that influenced a generation.

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